Saturday, July 11, 2020

Stretching it out in Twin Elm

I shared a small sneak peak of my recent meet with a Via corridor consist in my last post. My goal was to simply show a pastoral image of the train next to a cattle farm alongside the Smiths Falls Subdivision.

This week, I wanted to show a few more shots of this meet. With the news that Via Rail Canada is laying off 1,000 employees due to the low pandemic passenger levels, it might be more relevant than ever to share what I see, when I see it. I am more than accustomed to sharing Via Rail images when there are no freight images to show, but when even Via begins to dwindle, you know it's not a great time to be a railfan in Ottawa.

That said, I thought I would share a few shots of this double-ended Via Rail corridor train crossing Cambrian Road in Twin Elm, just outside the village of Richmond. I deliberately set up so I could get a wide shot of the train. Getting a wedge shot at this crossing is quite easy, especially at the Twin Elm Road crossing, which crosses the road at a sharp angle. I am not looking for those types of shots these days, as a general rule.

So, here's the first shot, as the train approaches the crossing and the SynAgri feed mill on the other side of the tracks. You can still see a small piece of the cattle farm on the right.

This shot captures the feed mill and a lone trackside tree, basking the July sun.

Here's my attempt to capture the entire train in a single shot. The trick here is to set up just past a telephone pole, so you can give yourself as much space as possible to get an unobstructed shot. I have made that mistake in the past where I haven't paid enough attention to the poles, which results in a less-than-satisfying shot.

I was trying to capture the landscape, including the sky, in each shot, so I was careful not to zoom in on the locomotive too much. And, given the fact that it was a P42, I figured being further away would be more flattering to these dogs.

Here's one last shot of the tail end. And, yes, I did end up getting a shot of the entire train. I wasn't sure I would be able to capture the whole consist in a way that would do it justice, but I think this image was pretty decent.

So, that was the sum total of my meet with a wetbound Via Rail corridor train at Twin Elm on Canada Day.

Thanks to everyone for their comments in my last post. I am trying to carry on blogging in some way, shape or form. Some have suggested that I focus on CN's Walkley Yard. I am now avoiding the yard, given that the property line is not entirely clear and the extension of Albion Road next to the tracks is more than likely not a public road. It's not worth a trespassing charge. Stay away from an area if you don't know where public land ends.

Some have suggested taking shots in the east end of the line, where CN still serves customers. I would love to do that, but I am still working full time from home, as is my wife, so time is always limited.

And, although many seem to fear that CN's discontinuance of service in Ottawa will mean the end of freight railways in the city, I disagree. I think some group will come forward and form some sort of shortline operation. This is probably the best possible scenario, since a shortline would likely have much more success in finding new customers and gaining new carload business. Possibly even the folks behind the Ottawa Central might re-emerge. That's just my speculation. No proof of anything. Just a hunch.

I may try and make my way out to Bedell soon, as the CP Winchester Sub is undergoing a single tracking from its current double mainline. That might be my best bet. We'll see.

Thanks for your comments. I'll try to keep this thing rolling.


Keith Boardman said...

Glad you came back so quickly! I need my train fix, regardless of how minimal it is. Is it just me or do your shots almost look like the head end could be an LRC?

My morning commute takes me on Ramsayville Road, and I typically catch a Montreal to Ottawa VIA rail around 8:15. Haven't seen it in months, as I think there is little more than 1 train per day in either direction.


Michael said...

Thanks, Keith. I'm trying my best to find some interesting tidbits to get me through to a more normal time. As you said, even the Vias are getting scarce in Ottawa these days. Makes it hard to put anything together for the railfans up here.

DaveM said...

You are definetly correct that the P42s have many unflattering angles. I find that problem is compounded by all of the bumps and bruises on their noses. The F40s seem to hold up better, or have been recently fixed up. :)

I think that a shortline operator being contracted for the services in the Ottawa area would be a positive outcome (and most probable). If {City buys the CN portions of the Beachburg, Nylene buys the rails, and the municipality buys the Vankleek Hill}, an operator could probably make a go of it. Using nothing but pure speculation, I'd say Cando would be most likely, with G&W being a long shot.

I've noticed that the rail yard in Johnstown is very busy these days. I've often wondered if CN is using it as a transfer point for freight to Ottawa for loading of trucks. For instance, I think that the rails for the O-Train projects were shipped there, then trucked north on the 416 rather than brought into the city by train.


Canadian Train Geek said...

Welcome back! I like the last shot the best... that road leads right into the full train. Great photo.

I haven't seen enough P42s to hate them yet!

Michael said...

Thanks, Steve. I have hated the P42s since day one. The front end is just hideous to me. I find it very interesting to read that the fronts of these locomotives were the result of a compromise. The engines were supposed to have a different look. If only...

Anonymous said...

I can't seem to understand your optimism regarding freight in Ottawa. Ottawa Central couldn't make it work, CN couldn't make it work. There really isn't a business case to have a freight railroad in Ottawa. A lot of the optimism around the operation here is based on pure speculation, but the cold reality is that nobody has expressed interest in the operation and it is unlikely anyone will. The default assumption should be that this operation will disappear entirely because of the numerous times operations like it have done so in the past.

Michael said...

Thanks for your comment, but respectfully disagree. Ottawa Central got caught in the Great Recession and was given an offer they couldn't refuse at the time. A new short line would have significantly lower overhead (almost no track to own and maintain) whereas OC had the entire line to Pembroke to maintain, not to mention its other properties inside and east of the city. And, as for CN, I don't think it's a matter of the company not being able to make it work. CN doesn't want to make it work. Their focus was likely never on this operation. They don't run short lines. And, as readers to this blog know, the former head of OC, James Allen, told me in an email that there is a strong business case to be made. So, that it the reason for my optimism. Of course, your skepticism is not at all unfounded. We're hardly a railway hotbed here.